Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
How many times have you been called a hypocrite since you began to live out your faith? How many times have you been wounded, annoyed, or frustrated by someone else who claims to be a Christian but is in fact being hypocritical? Wherever you stand with the issue of hypocritical Christians, we can agree that it’s very difficult to live a perfect life when we are all broken people. Every one of us is called to the perfection of Christ, and every one of us is affected by the Fall and our own sinful desires—those two don’t seem to be congruent. There’s so much to say about the role of grace in conversion, the help that God provides to strengthen us to be perfected in this life as we strive for holiness, but in light of today’s first reading, let’s shift our focus to one particular pitfall we often see for the hypocritical “perfect” Christian.
St. John is pretty clear in the words from today’s Mass, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar”. How often do we see this issue in our own lives or the lives of those around us? Which one of us claims to love God and loves all of our neighbors and family members perfectly? No one! All of us struggle to love others (some more than others, to be sure) and we all fall short in our relationships. So, does this make us liars and hypocrites? In a sense, I think it does. That isn’t meant to be a condemnation of you (Lord knows how I struggle to love those around me), but instead an opportunity for us to examine ourselves and where we need to experience conversion and the help of God’s grace. We can all profess to love God, to believe in Jesus Christ, and to be living as Christians but still be sinners. In fact, that’s sort of the point! In the same way, we can profess to love God and still struggle to love our neighbor as they deserve to be loved.
The way of perfection is not restricted to those who are already perfect, but an open path for all who are striving to achieve that ultimate end. The words of St. John today are not meant to be disheartening, condemning, or critical to all of us “hypocrites” who haven’t yet become perfect, but they are meant to be an encouragement and a chance to allow the Lord to fill in the areas where we are failing. If we read the line just before this in today’s reading we see that the only way we can even love our neighbor is through the Lord, “we love because he first loved us.” Each of us needs help to become who God is calling us to be, and that help can only come from God.
Be patient with yourself today—don’t become discouraged because you struggle to love those around you, or even God himself, but be strengthened by the knowledge that the journey toward perfection is just that, a journey. Let God fill in the spaces where you are lacking and allow Him to help you along the way to perfection.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
In what ways are you a hypocritical Christian? Are there some people, maybe even God, that you struggle or fail to love?
What areas in your life do you need to examine and experience God's grace? In what ways do you need help to become the person God created you to be?
Is your heart open to journeying with God on the path to perfection? How can you open yourself more to God's love?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"I love you."
"Heal me, Lord."
"Remain in me."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Today, search your heart and really evaluate where you are on the path to perfection in love. Note those who you struggle to love, and maybe that includes yourself. Accepting and giving love is not always easy, so ask God for the graces you need to let Him into your heart and guide you in this journey. Show Him the areas of your heart that need healing and strive to live out the life of love He calls us to.
Smartphone Lock Screen
The following image is here for you to save and use as a background or lock screen on your smartphone or device to help you carry today's Lectio Divina with you the rest of the day.
Today's prayer was prepared by Adam Smyth, the Life Teen Coordinator at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in the Woodlands, TX.
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